I recently decided to leave my job due to health reasons. Management sent out an email informing staff. A current employee screenshot the email and sent it to someone who no longer works for the company. I know this because, that person text me a copy of the screenshot and asked me "what happened?" Is this a privacy breach?

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    Depends on what was in the email. The plain fact that you will be leaving the company is not exactly private, the reasons may be.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 7:47
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    Offtopic: I know this because, that person text me a copy of the screenshot and asked me..keep distance from that person. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 7:53
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    What sort of privacy are you talking about? The information that you're going to leave the organization? That may not be exactly "private" and/or confidential information, based on the scope. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 7:55
  • Are you on friendly terms with either of these people?
    – AsheraH
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 8:58

2 Answers 2


It's certainly a data protection issue if the revealed the fact that you left due to poor health without asking you permission. They should not have even told other people at your company, other than those who need to know for some reason.

You should email the company HR department and explain that you are not happy with this information being shared within the company, let alone outside it.

  • Only thing here is we don't know whether the health issue was mentioned. I'd be surprised if that's the case - but left to OP to clarify. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 13:16
  • It's ok to inform staff that someone has left. There's a fine line to walk, however, to avoid insinuating any bad reasons for the leaving/termination. It sounds like the OP feels the email implies something he doesn't want to project and doesn't like it that a particular employee shared a screenshot of the email to someone outside the company. HR, in most places, is utterly useless in handling issues like this. Much better to reach out to a couple of colleagues personally and set the record straight.
    – teego1967
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 13:51

Your question is somewhat vague in the details of what "private" information was distributed, however in the vast majority of organisations any information that contains more than one piece of uniquely identifiable information (i.e. name, email address, photo etc.) is considered sensitive and confidential information, and should not be distributed over a medium as insecure as email.

Your reasons for leaving the organisation are your reasons alone. Other employees will be aware of your departure, but shouldn't know why unless you choose to publicise it. There are two points to your scenario which you can choose to listen to at your own discretion:

  • The reason for your departure should not be spread over emails, though word of mouth often leaks this information unless the manager you told retains a professional level of discretion. If you wanted this information to remain private, there's a problem.
  • The person outside of the organisation should not receive this information, irrespective of the sensitivity of the information.

Organisational information is private for a reason, not only is it personal to you, but it's also a potential security exploit. Someone with information on your departure outside of the organisation can use this to either socially engineer others, or directly contact you in an attempt to receive information.

  • I've never seen a "goodbye" emails containing photo and/or email ID. It is usually sent to people who somehow "knew" the person leaving the role / organization,otherwise it's not very relevant piece of info. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 13:17
  • @SouravGhosh Yes, but we aren't given much to go on, and end-of-contract emails often contain information pertaining to said contract. We also don't know how ethically contentious the company is- presumably so given that the question is being asked in the first place.
    – Clarke185
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 15:02

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